Academically trained French painter Pierre-Auguste Cot, who was a student of Bouguereau, among others, is particularly known for two similarly striking paintings, The Storm (above, top three images) and Springtime (bottom four images).
Both are beautifully rendered, with a feeling of lush naturalism, playfully romantic and more than a little suggestive. Check out the smoldering look the young woman is giving her companion on the swing in Springtime.
Of course, dressing up modern passion in academically approved antique dress, like the depiction of nymphs and satyrs, made an image a “history painting”, and events from mythology or history could excuse a great deal of romance-fueled suggestion in late 19th Century France.
Both works have been immensely popular from their creation to this day, and have been the subject of countless reproductions over that time.
Both paintings are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and a reader (thanks, radium56!) has informed me that both are now prominently on display before the entrance to the 19th and 20th century European paintings gallery, where they make a dramatic visual impression.
For those of us who can’t run over to the Met tomorrow to check them out, the museum’s excellent website has high-resolution images of both (click on “Fullscreen” under the image on the main page, then the “Download” arrow at bottom right).
As far as I can tell the museum is not making a point of this as a mini-exhibition or feature on the schedule, it just seems to be a curator’s idea of a fine way to celebrate spring.